By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Gasparilla Gazette on April 15, 2014
A reception for Suncoast Humane Society, recently held at the home of Ed and Nora Lea Reefe, gave us a wonderful opportunity to unveil our plans for a capital campaign. The immediate challenge is to raise seed money, approximately $200,000, needed for architectural and other start-up expenses. The ultimate goal is to raise an estimated eight million dollars needed to build a new animal care center.
Approximately thirty enthusiastic residents of Boca Grande attended the reception to learn more about the past, present, and future of Suncoast Humane Society. There were presentations, followed by comments and great questions regarding the programs, services and needs of our organization. There was a lot of discussion regarding the assurance that our new proposed center would be animal friendly, customer service friendly and staff efficient. Being an open admission, but long term animal care center and adoption agency, these are issues of great importance.
In 2012, the Board of Trustees of Suncoast Humane Society was hopeful of implementing a restoration program to bring our aging shelter up to operational standards. Following a professional evaluation of the facility, by shelter design experts, we were informed that we would just be throwing money away on a renovation. Some of our existing shelter has been here since 1971 and many of the major components, including structure, plumbing, electrical, heat and air were beyond restoration. This is the last thing we wanted to hear, especially being in a recovery mode from the terrible economy we all had been experiencing.
Over the last two years our Board has been hopeful that land, appropriate for our needs, would be donated. We knew we needed to find a location which would allow our services and programs to continue in our current coverage area. We followed several leads, conferred with several land owners, developers, and realtors only to reach dead ends. Then, just when it appeared hopeless, a parcel of land was identified within four blocks of our existing shelter. This property had been foreclosed upon by a bank whose services were leaving this area of Florida. Following a very short negotiation period, we agreed to purchase the 11 and one-half acres of land for $327,000. This same property sold for 2.5 million dollars in 2007. This was an investment in the future of Suncoast Humane Society that we could not turn down.
The purchase of the new site is a huge beginning of our ultimate goal. How quickly the dream becomes a reality depends upon the generosity of donors who will recognize the importance of Suncoast Humane Society, our future, and all that we provide for our communities.
Our friends from the reception at the Reefe's are already responding to our need for start-up funding for our capital campaign. Additional receptions are being planned on the Island, including one at Boca Grande Isles, to be graciously hosted by Bob and Addie Melvin, of Gulf Coast International Properties on Wednesday, April 16. Please contact Bob or Addie for further information. We hope to raise the funding needed for our start-up project before the many residents head north for the summer. That will allow us time to plan strategies for the capital campaign, which is set to begin in earnest later this year.
If you would like to help assure the future of Suncoast Humane Society, or would like a tour of our shelter to learn further about our needs, please contact us at 941-474-7884 or at humane.org. You may also contact Ed and Nora Lea Reefe, or Kathleen Rohrer, our on island campaign coordinators.